Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Who Is Mr. X?

For those of you who’ve never heard of Bob Newhart, he was the star of a TV sitcom back in the 70s. One of the most hilarious episodes was called “Who Is Mr. X?” in which his character (Bob Hartley) is ambushed during a live TV interview. Bob is a psychologist and has been invited to appear on a local TV show. This episode is used quite extensively in media training programs to show how NOT to give an interview.

Although some complain that this video is out of date, I still find it incredibly funny and a great way to get across some of the pitfalls of being interviewed. Unfortunately, the video is not freely available. However, here is how the interview begins:

Bob expectantly arrives at the TV studio fully expecting an interview in which he will be asked various softball questions about himself and his profession. However, he’s not done his homework and just shows up with no knowledge of the show, the show’s host, or what questions he’ll be asked. Host Ruth Corley introduces Bob and says, “It’s been said that today’s psychologist is nothing more than a con man, a snake-oil salesman flimflamming innocent people, peddling cures for everything from nail biting to a lousy love life—and I agree. We’ll ask Dr. Hartley to defend himself after these messages.” It’s all downhill from there….

The first time I saw the Bob Newhart interview episode was at a scientific conference during a workshop on how to interact with the media. The viewing of this episode was a great way to break the ice among the participants and get them thinking about what to do and not to do in an interview.

If you have an opportunity to see this episode, you won’t be disappointed.

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